In his biography of Liègeois artist Lambert Lombard (1505–1566), Domenicus Lampsonius (1532–1599) laments the dearth of ancient literature available in clear, faithful translations from Latin. Until recently, we could say the same of the biography itself, Lamberti Lombardi apud Eburones pictoris celeberrimi vita (1565), the first major piece of art writing published in the Netherlands. Before Colette Nativel’s first-rate translation of this supremely important work into French (2018), a reliable translation into any modern language was wanting. Scholars could either consult Jean Hubaux and Jean Puraye’s translation, notable for its departures from Lampsonius’s challenging Latin, or Maria Teresa Sciolla’s Italian translation, based on Hubaux and Puraye’s problematic French. Nativel accompanied her translation’s copious, erudite annotations with a slim but informative prefatory essay focused primarily on Lampsonius. With the volume reviewed here, Edward Wouk delivers a more expansive, well-rounded edition. His translation with Helen Dalton of The Life of Lambert Lombard strikes precisely the elusive balance that Lampsonius sought: legibility without license. Wouk also provides supporting materials contextualizing the biography more extensively than any previous edition. His own prefatory essay gives balanced attention to both author and artist. Moreover, Lampsonius’s print cycle of 23 portraits of Netherlandish painters, Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniæ Inferioris effigies (1572; Effigies of some celebrated painters from the Low Countries) appears here with Wouk’s translations of each print’s Latin inscription and his insightful annotations.
Along with Jan Gossart (1478–1532), Maarten van Heemskerck (1498–1574), and Frans Floris (1519–1570), Lombard is among those Netherlandish artists who engaged with antiquity via a Roman sojourn (1537) and worked in a style “after the antique” (all’antica). But unlike his contemporaries, Lombard has attracted insufficient scholarly attention, as has his biographer. Lombard’s relative obscurity must be due to a scant oeuvre of securely attributed paintings, what Wouk describes as a “frustratingly small” number of successful pupils, and his location in Liège, a smaller artistic center.
Yet copious materials beckon. In addition to the biography, we have over a thousand extant drawings, a robust painted oeuvre after Lombard’s compositions, and letters to Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574), wherein Lampsonius and Lombard outline their ideas about art. Books and an exhibition by Godelieve Denhaene have provided a strong foundation for Lombard studies. But only Wouk has made significant contributions in articles since then. Meanwhile, Nativel’s introduction notwithstanding, we find recent scholarship on Lampsonius in even more anemic condition. Lampsonius was Lombard’s pupil, perhaps a painter of some talent, if his lone extant altarpiece in Hasselt is an accurate indicator. He was also a humanist who enjoyed patronage under Cardinal Reginald Pole (1500–1558) and an antiquarian possessing a sophisticated art theory. Walter Melion dedicated a chapter to the importance of Lampsonius’s Effigies for Karel van Mander’s Schilder-Boeck in Shaping the Netherlandish Canon. After Melion, Sarah Meiers and Mathilde Bert published articles on the Effigies and on Lampsonius’s classical sources, respectively.
With plain-spoken certainty, Wouk’s essay adds significantly to the discourse. He describes the state of artistic production in the Netherlands and Rome at mid-century, the circumstances of the biography’s publication, and Lampsonius’s art theory. The essay concludes with sections summarizing the Effigies. Wouk sees the biography’s main argument in its elaboration of Lombard as a pictor doctus – a learned painter – who prescribed a “strict adherence to antiquity” for formulating an art that was, nevertheless, distinctly Netherlandish. The latter aspect is most importantly embodied in Lombard’s “grammar,” a word describing the artist’s vast corpus of figure drawings all’antica and the theory that those drawings embody. Lombard did not limit his notion of antiquities to those in Italy, but also acknowledged the antique authority of northern medieval productions, such as the twelfth-century frescoes in the Church at Schwarzrheindorf.
Lampsonius’s impetus for writing Lombard’s biography comprises another of Wouk’s major concerns. Wouk identifies four main factors comprising Lombard as Lampsonius’s ideal subject: patronage from illustrious clerics; his Roman sojourn; his “academy” of art; and his oeuvre. Per Wouk, the Life is a “meta-biography held loosely on the armature of Lombard’s lived experience.” Moreover, Wouk states, the biography comprises “a theoretical rejoinder to Vasari.” Scholars have suggested the Life’s meta-biographical status before. Lombard’s extant oeuvre and his founding of an academy of sorts suggest his artistry as primarily theoretical and discursive. Thus, a biography of him would lend itself to an elaboration of an art theory. However, readers may find the precise nature of Lampsonius’s counterpoint to Vasari elusive. Consider Lampsonius’s notion of graphice. In this concept, Wouk sees a Netherlandish alternative to disegno, Vasari’s loose cognate of “design,” referring to the act of drawing, but also to the quasi-mystical transferrable faculty endowing artists with a command of architecture, painting, and sculpture. Lampsonius’s graphice could also refer to drawing, but is also “larger than the physical act or manifestation of draftsmanship,” and, like disegno, is not limited to a specific medium. Despite their similarities, Wouk distinguishes these concepts by noting their usage in context. Lampsonius never uses Vasari’s term. But his lengthiest explication of graphice precedes a section of the biography condemning art academies for monetizing artistry, a not-so-veiled shot at Florence’s Academia delle Arti del Disegno, of which Vasari was a major exponent. In this sequence of omissions, Wouk sees the primacy of graphice and Lampsonius’s repudiation of disegno. The biography itself, introduced with a letter from Lombard pupil Hubert Goltzius (1526–1583) to cartographer-humanist Abraham Ortelius (1527–1598), offers a rich mix of anecdote, history, and theory.
Wouk traces theoretical concerns linking the Life to the Effigies, especially their shared notion that Netherlandish artists paint “with their brains in their hands.” Here, too, Lampsonius primarily aims to distinguish a native Netherlandish art. Wouk identifies the Effigies’ precedents in Phillip Galle’s printed portrait series of learned men, and of course, Vasari’s series of biographies. Wouk’s annotations of each print are learned and informative. Rather than appearing as concise discursive footnotes, they should have received proper catalog entry formatting and more expansive discourse. There is room for more on each page.
If all of the ideas described here seem diffuse, even daunting, that is because they are. As the first author of a Netherlandish art theory influenced by a master whose reverence for antiquity was foremost, Lampsonius had a lot of ground to cover and worlds to reconcile. Wouk handles these complexities with such confident concision that readers will oscillate between feeling reassured and compelled to read some passages again to unpack their implications. One hopes for a more extensive publication from Wouk, wherein Lombard’s painted oeuvre can receive sharper focus. Pace Denhaene, those paintings still form a dark continent in the field, with their many “after,” “follower,” “circle of,” and “?” attributions. Wouk’s unique expertise – on Lampsonius, Lombard, his star pupil Floris, and the vast universe of mid-sixteenth century print production – makes him the most qualified scholar for such a task. Regardless of whether or not such a study appears, Nativel’s and Wouk’s reliable translations of Lamberti Lombardi apud Eburones pictoris celeberrimi vita will allow it to find a more appropriately prominent place in the discourse on author and artist alike.
Arthur J. DiFuria
Savannah College of Art and Design
 Dominique Lampson, Vie de Lambert Lombard (1565), trans. Colette Natival (Geneva: Droz, 2018).
 Jean Hubaux and Jean Puraye, “Dominique Lampson, Lamberti Lombardi Vita: traduction et notes,” Revue belge d’Archéologie et d’histoire de l’art 18 (1949): 52–77; Gianni Carlo Sciolla and Caterina Volpi, Da van Eyck a Brueghel: scritti sulle arti di Domenico Lampsonio, trans. Maria Teresa Sciolla (Turin: UTET, 2001).
 Godelieve Denhaene, Lambert Lombard: Renaissance et Humanisme à Liège (Antwerp: Mercatorfonds, 1990); Idem., ed., Lambert Lombard: Peintre de la Renaissance: Essais interdisciplinaires et catalogue de l’exposition (Brussels: Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique, 2006).
 See especially Edward H. Wouk, “Reclaiming the Antiquities of Gaul: Lambert Lombard and the history of northern art,” Simiolus 36 no. 1/2, 36–65; Idem, “Pathosformel as Grammar. From Lambert Lombard to Aby Warburg,” Dutch Yearbook for Art History / Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 68 (2019): 79–113.
 Sarah Meiers, “Portraits in Pring: Hieronymus Cock, Dominicus Lampsonius, and ‘Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae inferioris effigies,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 69 Bd., H.1 (2006): 1–16; Mathilde Bert, “Pline l’Ancien et Dominique Lombson. Usages des Propos de Pline sur la Peinture dans la Littérature Artistique de la Renaissance,” Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences (2011): 349–369.